Columns / Discourse / January 22, 2014

Predictions and hopes for the Geneva II talks

Recently, Bashar-al-Assad has been confused. This dictator is convinced that the Geneva II talks — a Middle East peace conference that would focus on ending the Syrian war and beginning the reconstruction process — is actually a conference for him and other members of the United Nations to discuss the war on terror. In fact, it seems as though Assad will do anything to ensure that the peace talks do not include his removal, but instead focus on a future with him in the picture.

The well-known, ruthless dictator, Bashar-al-Assad has used chemical weapons and taken many innocent lives. Yet, despite his sordid past, he continues his efforts to convince the United Nations (which is in charge of Geneva II) that he should maintain his power in Syria. Does anyone else realize how ridiculous that sounds? In a public statement U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “I’m not particularly, you know, surprised that he is trying to divert this. He’s been doing this for months, trying to make himself the protector of Syria against extremists.”  

I agree with John Kerry. It seems as though the Syrian government will attempt to divert peace talks away from its central aim—discussing a new political government in Syria—instead concentrating solely on a cease-fire. In fact, the Syrian Foreign Minister has already passed down a plan of cease-fire to their Russian neighbors, which also included goals of a prisoner exchange and an end to the humanitarian crisis. Yet Bashar-al-Assad continues to keep himself in all of these plans for the future of Syria, something that the largest opposition group to the regime, the Syrian National Council, specifically frowns upon.

Earlier in the year it had seemed as though the Syrian National Council was not going to attend the conference unless Assad and the regime had backed down from Syria. In fact on Jan. 17 Haithem-al Maleh, a member of the SNC, stated that they would not directly negotiate with the regime and would “only seek its removal.” However, one day later, the SNC voted on whether or not the coalition should attend the peace talks. In a vote of 58 in favor of attending and 14 against, the Syrian National Council decided to attend the talks in Geneva in the coming week.

The United States and Russia have been attempting to hold peace talks for Syria since 2012, but they have been consistently delayed. However, it is evident that the Syrian crisis has escalated into an international affair, which calls the attention of all the world’s major superpowers and spotlights the violent actions of Assad. Clearly the mentality of John Kerry and the Syrian National Council is a good stepping stone. They will not stand for Bashar-al-Assad or his regime continuing to dictate over a country where civil war has already cost 100,000 lives and displaced millions from their homes.

In reference to the cease-fire plan Syria sent to Russian diplomats, Kerry believes that Assad is simply attempting to divert attention away from the original intent of the Geneva II talks and Kerry will not stand for that. Taking a hard-line stance, Kerry said, “I believe, as we begin to get to Geneva and begin to get into this process, that it will become clear that there is no political solution whatsoever if Assad is not discussing a transition and if he thinks he’s going to be part of that future. It’s not going to happen,”.

Unfortunately, Assad and his regime have stated that they will not be backing away from holding power in Syria and will potentially run again for elections that occur later in 2014. Assad continues to hold onto his power, and if allowed to do so, he will once again win the elections and continue the horrific humanitarian crisis and civil war that has persisted in Syria since 2011.

Compared to the past, today’s Syria has become a much greater international concern with foreign powers watching Assad’s each and every move. Kerry’s hard-line stance and even the opposition of the Syrian National Council seem to point to successful peace talks. If Geneva II does occur within the next week or so, it will be an immense show of power and diplomacy that will further determine if the Assad regime will continue to exist in the future. One definitive fact? The imminent fall of the Assad regime looks closer and closer every day.

Hiba Ahmed

Tags:  Bashar-al-Assad Geneva II John Kerry Middle East peace conference peace peace talks syria syrian civil war

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